A civil action is begun by filing a writ of summons (WOS). The party making a claim is called the Plaintiff and the other party the Defendant.

After the
WOS is issued, the plaintiff must serve it on the defendant. A defendant who receives the WOS must, if he wishes to contest the plaintiff's claim, inform both the court and the plaintiff of his intention by entering an appearance. He must file a memorandum of appearance in court within 8 days after he has been served with the WOS. If a defendant fails to enter an appearance within the time specified in the writ, the plaintiff may enter a judgment against him. If the Defendant enters an appearance then, within 22 days from the date the defendant was served with the writ of summons, he must file his defence in court and also serve a copy of his defence on the plaintiff. If a defendant feels he has any claim against the plaintiff, he may make a counterclaim in the same action brought by the plaintiff. In the event that the defendant has been served the WOS and has entered an appearance but has no defence to the claim or any part of the claim or does not file any defence, the plaintiff may apply to the court for judgment against the defendant.

After a civil action is commenced, it usually goes through various stages before the trial actually takes place. During the pre-trial stages, both parties have to comply with the requirements set out in the Rules of Court, for example, those relating to giving further details of the facts of one's case, the gathering and exchange of documents to prove one's case and the preparation and exchange of witness' statements (by way of affidavits of evidence-in-chief) which each party is relying on. In the course of preparing the case for trial during the pre-trial stages, each party may file an interlocutory application to the court in order to further the preparation of his case.

Examples of common interlocutory applications are:

Application for discovery of documents:
Application for the amendment of the various documents filed

Application for summary judgment:

Court Dispute Resolution ('CDR') is a process that serves as an alternative to litigation in resolving civil disputes. These processes are convenient and they provide fast, effective, efficient and above all, consensual solutions to the conflict. These processes also incur no expenses to the disputants as they are provided free of charge. The aim of CDR is to enable the parties, through co-operation, mediation, negotiation and compromise, to attain a win-win result in disputes.

CDR fundamentally entails the parties attending a Mediation Session, presided by an impartial Settlement Judge who manages the discussions but leaves the decision-making to the parties themselves.

CDR is an alternative to the adjudication process. It is based within the Court system and conducted by a District Judge. The process is designed to encourage litigants and solicitors to negotiate freely before the settlement judge. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the case will be assigned to another judge for trial.


After the opening submissions have been made the witnesses will be orally examined in Court. At the conclusion of the examination of all the witnesses of both the plaintiff and the defendant, closing submissions by each party will be made. Closing submissions refer to the final arguments which a party makes regarding his case.

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